Exclusive Video: Make A Wish’s Sarah Watson: Tech Skills Gap

Sarah Watson, Director of Finance & Technology at Make A Wish, speaks at Tech LIVE Virtual on how the charity is addressing the technology skills gap

In this discussion at Tech LIVE Virtual, Sarah Watson explores the issues and opportunities that technology skills gaps create for Make-A-Wish Foundation UK - from a lack of investment in training, to low levels of STEM education, and a mismatch between skills needed and possessed.

Watson explains how this skills gap impacts Make A Wish’s ability to grant magical, inclusive and inspiring wishes for critically ill children.

Technology Skills Gap

As Watson explains, when she joined Make A Wish the charity had an infrastructure gap. 

“We simply didn't have the tools for enablers we needed. We didn't have an internal technology team, so we didn't have the internal resources or skills to create or in some cases even imagine them.

“And in order to scale and build out a networked way of working to reach every child, we would need to address both. We also found that as we addressed one problem or pain point, we found our teams did not have the skills to use the technology. 

“With technology continually evolving, there will always be gaps. And for an organisation like us seeking to do things differently or building into higher levels of uncertainty, this risk requires skills in requirements gathering and rigor around scoping. And we found this, you guessed it, to be another gap.”

As Watson describes, this has been addressed through the hiring of skilled people.

“We needed to hire skilled people, which is easier said than done when you're resource constrained. And in a candidate-led market, we worked with experts when we needed targeted permanent recruitment. For us, this meant working for the first time with specialist recruiters and being really clear about the value exchanged, whether it was impact versus money, because there was no way that Make-A-Wish is going to be able to compete with highly commercial organisations.

“And we identified we needed three lead roles to bring leadership and technology services, data and digital products. We utilised interim recruitment to bridge the gaps between one space and another, either because the end mapping wasn't clear or to upskill an internal team, and we explored and utilised skills based partnering with universities or other training providers."

To watch any of our other speakers from Tech LIVE Virtual, click here.

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